Free «Peer Review – Kim Stewart» Essay Sample

In her paper “Wealth is not the only factor causing the gap in standardized test scores” Kim Stewart describes impact of wealth and other relevant factors on the students’ performance at school in the cross section of African American families and European families. The research emphasizes relevance of factors not related to income that make a substantial contribution to the educational patterns’ development, including family background, attitude in the family towards education and threat of stereotypes. It concludes that even though household income is crucial in determining student’s performance at school, there are other relevant determinants of educational attainment among different cultural groups like African Americans and Europeans.

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            Research question in the paper is not stated explicitly even though subject matter is extensively discussed with relevant arguments. Author is making a “horizontal” comparison of two different groups (African American and European families) in the same timeframe. Also, she discusses how various social and cultural characteristics are affecting quality of education with corresponding arguments as a proof.

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            First, there is a clear presentation how income may be not be significant for students to get higher standardized test scores. However, financial resources of the family in any cultural setting do matter for students. Increase in the size of the family income by $1,000 can raise scores in mathematics by around 2% and by 4% in reading according to the study Dahl & Lochner (20). Other studies also find significant effect of income on child performance at school (Morris, Duncan, and Rodrigues 11). Therefore, it would be good to present complete picture of the family income role in the performance of students at school.

            Effect of the family background on the performance of students at standardized test scores is extensively discussed in the paper. Author compares family composition in both cultural groups, African Americans and European, concluding that European families’ structure are more favorable environment for a student to study in. Working patterns of family members is also a crucial family background factor that causes differences in the students’ performance at school. It is well articulated that if both parents are working in the family, then children will be left by themselves to assess school courses without any additional help.

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            Furthermore, in addition to family social and economic background, its attitude to education matters as well. In fact, level of parental education is crucial for children’s performance (Dahl & Lochner 44). If parents have completed their education at high school, as well as got any kind of the academic degree, then there are higher chances for their children to get higher test scores and graduate from high school as well. Finally, the argument of the stereotypes’ impact on the performance of students at school is properly discussed and addressed. There are various stereotypes in the communities about racial skills disparities. They substantially affect emotional condition of a person when he/she is taking a standardized test.

            There are a number of other cultural and social factors that are relevant for standardized test’s performance. In particular, family size matters. There is evidence in the literature that “Growing up in a single-parent or stepparent family (or experiencing a parental separation or divorce) has a negative effect on the educational attainment, and larger effects are recorded for African Americans that for whites” (Haveman & Wolfe 1871).

            Paper is properly and logically structures, using subheadings to clearly separate each argumentative point. Presentation of the material is mostly clear with minor grammar mistakes. Material is presented in an argumentative manner, at times to emotional. The author has cited adequate amount of sources.

            To sum up, the overall research is carried out and presented in a clear manner. Question raised in this paper is important nowadays. There is a feeling that at the very beginning of the paper, some motivation for the selection of the topic would not overload the paper. 

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